Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 25, 2011

Freelance Children’s Book Editor Search

David Caruba contacted me wanting to find a freelance editor to help him with his book and writing.  He hasn’t had much success in the past, spent a lot of money, and has never felt he got his monies worth.  I have never used one, so I could not recommend one (He writes middle grade and young adult).  So he asked if he could write a letter to all of you to see if anyone in my audience could help and/or share their thoughts about this subject. 

I agreed, because I felt it might be a discussion that could help other writers out there and that is what this blog is about.  Here is David’s letter:

I’m searching for a freelance children’s book editor.  Maybe you could help?

You know the type: a former children’s book editor who worked for a major publisher and had a Newbery-class reputation.  Maybe he/she was recently let go and has set up their shingle offering an experienced set of eyes to provide a rejection-proof, detailed manuscript critique.  The client, in this case, is a somewhat desperate—okay, make that very desperate!—writer.

That would be me.  I’m reaching out in hopes that someone has worked with someone who they really connected with, someone who really made their mediocre manuscript shine like the second coming of the Hunger Games.

My experience with freelance children’s book editors over the years hasn’t always been pretty.  There was one who in talking with an acquiring editor interested in my manuscript, convinced her it wasn’t ready yet (nice, huh?).  There was another who failed to mention her disdain for manuscripts written in first person, until after she edited my first person manuscript (and yes, she declined my request to refund my money, which would have been the professional thing to do).  One eviscerated me so badly it took a year to recover.  Another left a friend on life support—he hasn’t written a word of fiction since.

The truth is, I love the idea of a freelance children’s book editor—a trusted member of my writing team who has the propensity to encourage, steer and line edit a manuscript into the glorious outstretched hands of a literary agent eager to sign me.  Perhaps you
share the fantasy.

Trouble is, I’ve never really found one who delivered the goods.  And I’ve plucked down a king’s ransom, without ever scoring a king.  In fact, the grand total of much investment over many years has been not a single successful manuscript.  If I wanted to throw my money away, I’d invest it in the stock market or a new Broadway musical.  Both have potential, right?

Which got me thinking…

Has anyone worked with a freelance editor who really “got” them—who understood their manuscript’s potential?  Does anyone feel strongly enough about a freelance children’s book editor to recommend them?  If so, I’d be more than grateful for the intel as would, I suspect, many other children’s book writers and readers of this blog.  Please share a name, if you have one.  It could make a real difference to a lot of frustrated writers.

Hope some of you out there can share your experiences with us.  Maybe things you would double check before hiring someone to work with.  If you want to write David directly his email is:  writer1040(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. David, I wish I could help, but I can’t. I can only offer you good wishes and good luck in finding the right person 😀


  2. Hi David. I have been working with a writing coach for about a year and a half. She is not a book doctor. We meet weekly for one hour over the phone for a very reasonable monthly fee. I can send her up to 20 pages of my work each week. My first short story sent out to literary magazines got published. After that I stopped sending out stories because I really wanted to work on my middlegrade novel. Anyway, my coach helps me to be a better writer. She points out inconsistencies in my story, grammar, spelling, etc. I have someone with whom I can discuss my characters, my thoughts, my fears. We talk about building a career. We talk about being a writer. She supports me! I am finally revising my ms! And, although she does not write for children, she is a published author and writing teacher. It is a great fit. So, I guess what I am saying is that maybe this would be the way to go. Find a writing coach that can help you reach your long-term goals as a writer, not just edit your book. Let me know if you need more info – I’m happy to share.


    • Bettelynn,

      There you are. Can you believe the hlidays are barreling down on us? Thanks for letting David know what is working for you. David has set the bar pretty high. I am sure someone is out there that can help. It’s just finding them.



      • Hi! I’m not hiding – not really. I’ve been so busy running around to colleges with my son, Andrew, and kicking him in the fanny to get as much done on applications and essays as he can so he doesn’t get overwhelmed as deadlines approach. The schools we have seen are all amazing!

        Hope you are well and we can all get together soon. David knows exactly what he is looking for and I wish him the best with his ms. Maybe if he finds an editor that is spactacular, he can pass on the good news.

        Lots of hugs,



  3. I’ve never used a book editor, but sure have gotten lots of help from other writers. I don’t have personal experience with either of these people, but have heard they are very good.
    Deborah Halverson
    Linda Zuckerman
    I’ve met them both and was impressed.
    Here’s a PDF of SCBWI members who do editing:


    • Sue,

      Thanks for sharing. I’m the same. Thank goodness for our fellow writers.



  4. Hi Donna, Bettelyn and Sue,

    Thank you all for your suggestions and good wishes. I really appreciate them.

    Donna, it’s always great to hear from you–I’d be happy to let you know what I ultimately decide.

    Bettelynn, I think your writing coach is a terrific idea. I would have loved to find a writing coach/mentor earlier in my career (I’m a full-time writer in the corporate sector by day). For this project, I’m searching specifically for a freelance children’s book editor. In the future, though, I’ll your suggestion in mind. I do like it a lot.

    Sue, thanks (and hi, by the way–long time no see). I haven’t heard of Deborah but have used Linda. She’s well respected but wasn’t a good match for me.

    My challenge–why I wrote the guest blog–is to see if anyone has had a good first hand experience with a freelance children’s book editor and would recommend them. The funny thing is I don’t know anyone who has worked with such an editor and ultimately made a sale (and I know a lot of writers). And I’m genuinely interested in hearing of anyone having a good experience.

    I appreciate everyone taking time to consider my request. I realize this is an unusual use of a blog but thought a discussion could be valuable for Kathy’s readership (myself included).



    I found Jim via the SCBWI. He’s a well-published children’s author and just a phenomenal editor and person. I had a great experience with Jim. Using him as a freelance editor helped me speed up the process with my manuscript. I can’t say enough positive things about Jim. He answered every email right away. He was extremely thorough in his edits. While I was working with Jim, I happened to be in a writing class at DC.EDU, and my professor, who just published a novel with Penguin, was impressed with Jim’s editing. Jim and I seemed to click right away, and I know that I learned quite a bit from the experience! Hope this helps.



  6. Thanks Chris,

    Jim seems like a great a guy. Unfortunately, I’m specifically looking for a freelance children’s editor with experience editing at one of the major children’s book publishers. It’s interesting that while there are many such freelance children’s book editors out there, no one has yet recommended one based on their own experience.



  7. Okay David. Best of luck in your search, hope you find someone.



  8. Leslie Wainger, Gabe Robinson, Anna Genoese, Laura Anne Gilman, and Caroline Tolley. They aren’t specifically/only YA editors, but they ALL handle YA and come from N.Y. editing backgrounds.


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